SOUTH AFRICA: Spiral Horn Safari With Rick Wolvaardt Of RW Safaris International

kudukid

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Check out the bullet hole - clean through the wart.

We headed back for an early lunch and got a call on the radio that Peter had taken a nice waterbuck. We met them down at the river where they were setting up for photos. It turns out Peter spotted the bull and jumped off the truck and then couldn't see him through the acacia. Ruan moved him one step to the side and set up the sticks and the waterbuck dropped at the shot. He was a fine waterbuck and we all celebrated with a coldy at the river.

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Peter and Ruan with a fine waterbuck bull.

After a quick lunch we went to a high point to try to spot something coming into the river for a drink. A nice nyala bull fed out of the undergrowth - but he was safe.

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A nice nyala bull feeding along the river's edge.

Something glistening in the sun caught my eye. A quick squiz through the Leicas revealed a toothy warthog at 525 metres. I pointed him out to Rick and the stalk was on. It took us around 30 minutes to work our way to a point across the river from where we last saw the warthog. Rick quickly spotted him in the shade digging up the ground. Rick set up the sticks but the problem was we were on the down slope of the riverbank and not only were the sticks slipping but so were my feet. I finally had a few seconds where I wasn't slipping and managed to deck the warthog from 118 metres across the river. He was a nice even warthog. I was over the moon. I had 3 warthogs down and it was only day 3.

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The warthog was spotted on the far left of this picture on the opposite side of the river.

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Warthog number 3. Nice and even

If anyone hadn't noticed - I love hunting warthog - love it!

The rest of the afternoon was fairly quiet. Wayne and Courtney bumped into a nice big Klippy but unfortunately one horn was broken.

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Klippy with a broken horn.



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kudukid

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Scrub and Courtney were chasing impala all afternoon but they were very flighty. Late in the afternoon Scrub pulled off a beautiful shot from 238 metres (he also has Leica Geovids with the rangefinder) that decked a nice impala ram. He was an old boy and his left horn was worn down- he had real character.


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clint21

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Great story so far mate, looks like Rick is the guru on the Nyala. They are beautiful trophies and i could only imagine the banter between you guys at camp. Looking forward to reading the upcoming hunting report as i imagine there is a lot more exciting hunting to follow.
 

kudukid

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Pete and Ruan and their tracker - kudu -( yes kudu!. Awesome name for a tracker) had an eventful afternoon. They picked up the tracks of 3 large eland bulls just after lunch. They tracked the bulls and just before dark they caught up with them feeding in some thick stuff. They got within 80 metres but they just couldn't get a shot. Finally the eland decided to get out of Dodge!

We were having a beer back at the lodge when all hell broke loose. There was a commotion and the thundering of hooves. An animal started bellowing and the boys were sure a leopard had just killed a wildebeest within 300 metres of the lodge. We saw leopard tracks everywhere and since the ban on leopard hunting 3 years ago the leopards have bred up considerably.

Day 4

Before sunrise we went down to look for the leopard kill. It wasn't pretty - the leopard had taken a large wildebeest bull and it was on it's last legs. he was finished off quickly.

I had been allocated Martin today and as we did an interview at a small waterhole - I declared today is eland day. Would my premonition be right??

Soon after, we found fresh eland tracks crossing the river. "Two big bulls" said Pilane - our tracker. We followed the tracks up into some stony country and Rick though we were getting close so he made everyone (except me) take off their boots. Even our dedicated camera man had to take his boots off. I am still not sure what I would have said to Rick if he had asked me to take off my boots!! We followed the tracks higher up into the mountains. Pilane was spot on with his tracking - especially in this stony country. Pilane signalled us to slow down as we were getting close. Just like that a mob of impala spooked in front of us. We cam up on the eland tracks and they were now running - bloody impala. So close!

The tracks led around the left hand side of a large mountain. Rick thought he knew where they would be heading so we left the tracks and skirted over the mountain and waited in pursuit at a small pass between the two mountains. NO show! We then went down to try to cut the tracks from a different angle. No luck. After more than 4 hours of tracking over rocks with bare feet- my PH , my camera man and my tracker had all pulled up lame. I offered to walk back to the truck and come back for them but Rick said you will never find it- good point. Rick got on the radio and requested a vehicle come and pick them up. While we were waiting under a huge Boab tree, I rebranded the name of Rick's company form RW safaris International to Saw-Feet Safaris.

We had a quick lunch and came back to take up the tracks where we had left them. Instead of us all going after them - Rick sent Pilane in (with his boots on) to follow up. Two hours later Pilane called in on the radio that he had just bumped the eland and a third bull had joined the other 2. Pilane explained to Rick where they were heading and with some break-neck speed driving Rick put us ahead of them. We climbed to a high vantage point and not long after - three eland bulls came running up the mountain.
 

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Really??? Gonna leave it there?
 

kudukid

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The 3 eland bulls were going to cross the ridge approximately 150 metres from our position. I got on the sticks and asked Rick which one. They are all big but shoot the one in the middle. The bush was quite thick and the eland didn't slow down as they crested the ridge. The first one came through and the second one but there was no shot- the bush was too thick. Then the third one came through on a slightly different path to the first two. There was a tiny gap and as the eland ran through I let rip. There was a big thump but the eland kept going. We ran over the ridge and saw an eland walking around 200 metres below us. I was on the sticks and Rick said to wait until he could confirm blood. Seconds passed and the call came through - SHOOT! Problem was - the eland at that exact second walked in the bush. Rick asked if I was confident with the shot. I said it all happened so quickly but I felt good as the eland was quartering away from me quite sharply. Martin played the video for us a couple of times and the eland was quartering away quite sharply so I felt better about our prospects. I should mention at this stage that I was using handloads in my .338 win mag with 210 grain Barnes TTSX - hence I was confident of the penetration of these projectiles.

We gave it 15 minutes and then started the follow up. After about 50 metres the amount of blood was staggering and it looked like lung blood. The trail was easy to follow and we quickly came up on the bull. He was down but still had his head up. I quickly put a finisher into his neck- he was down! I couldn't have prepared myself for the sheer size of this beast - he was huge. I don't mind admitting I was a little emotional as this was the animal I had come to Africa for. I hugged Rick and thanked him, Pilane and Martin as well. Group hug!

He was a big blue with a huge dulep and a nice tuft with a bit of black colouring. Rick pointed out the ivory tips on the horns and said this was not common.

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Kudukid with is favourite African trophy to date

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Check out the dulep

It was 4.30 pm - we had been chasing this bull for 9 hours (with 30 minutes for lunch)

We radioed the boys and there was a small party at the skinning shed.

Unfortunately Scrubs guide Courtney had to go to Namibia so Rick got in another PH friend of his Sarel. This guy has a great sense of humour and boy can he talk. He got off to a flyer with Scrub. They went and sat in a blind where the trail cam had revealed a large sow bushpig was feeding on bait. They were only gone an hour and were back in camp with a G&T. Job done!

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Scrub and Sarel with a beautiful ginger bushpig.

Day 5

We headed off in convoy at first light and were crossing a creek when Rick hit the brakes. he jumped out. Fresh eland tracks. Pete and Ruan came along soon after and we also left Pilane with the boys to assist with the tracking. We cleared out and went looking for waterbuck. We only saw waterbuck cows but we must have seen 200 kudu including some nice bulls. A call came through on the radio that the boys had caught up with the eland. We drove for around 25 minutes and found them standing beside a huge eland bull. Pete had borrowed Ricks .416 Rem Mag and drilled the bull as it was trotting away. They followed him up and quick finisher had him on the ground. Pete was elated.

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The whole crew with Pete's eland bull

Rick and I sat in a blind waiting for bushpig over bait. We had 2 honey badgers, a civet cat and a small brown hyena come in - but no bush pig.

Day 6

Pete was on the sticks looking at a huge Klipspringer but he didn't pull the trigger. He ummed and ahh'ed but said it just wasn't his thing. None of us have been interested in any of the tiny 10 from previous safaris - but it was very tempting here as the duiker, steenbuck and Klippy's are prolific. Funnily enough, while looking for bushbuck Ruan spotted a large steenbuck. Pete got on the sticks and whacked it from 230 metres. He couldn't believe how small it was when he got up close.

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Pete with his steenbuck

Rick's father, Johan, has also been an outfitter all of his life. He is such an interesting, nice guy. He was Selous Scout and we all bought a fantastic book from him on the history of the Selous Scouts. Johan has an incredible trophy room - in fact it is more like a museum. There are 4 generations of Wolvaardt trophies in there. We spent a couple of hours with our jaws dropping. I could have easily spent a day there. Anyone that hunts with Rick -this is a must do.

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The 3 amigos in the Wolvaardt museum.


Pete hadn't had any luck with bushbuck yet so Rick organised for him and Ruan to go to a friends property on the river around 20 minutes away. Just before dark two female bushbuck walked down into the river and a few minutes later a big male followed them down. Pete had a difficult angling shot at around 200 metres off the stick but he connected. The ram got into the dense bush but the boys found him. Our super trusty cameraman, Martin, captured it all on film.

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Ruan and Pete with his beautiful bushbuck.

That night Rick had 2 phone calls form neighbours. Word spreads quickly when there are hunters around. One neighbour said he had a surplus of zebra and asked if we wanted to shoot some at a very good price. Pete put his hand up for 2 and Scrub pledged one. I already have a nice zebra skin at home. The second call was from a neighbour who said there was a huge eland bull coming in to drink near his house. He offered it for half price. after offering it to Scrub first - I jumped at it.

Day 7

We were perched on a high vantage point above the sand River waiting for daylight. Within minutes I spotted waterbuck but they sensed danger and ran across the dry river. We waited patiently and 15 minutes later four female waterbuck crossed the river a bit further down - but there was no bull. Rick said he could see the bull hiding in the thick bush. That crafty bull waited until all of the females had gone right across the riverbed and then he ran across at speed. He stopped in the reeds on the far side. He didn't realise form our vantage point above him that I could see him clearly. I had a perfect rest and squeezed the trigger. The shot felt good. Even when the bull ran off into the bush I wasn't concerned. I think you missed- said Rick. Fortunately we had Martin filming the shot and he captured it perfectly . It turn out the bullet went a whisper under his chest. I then ranged the spot where the bull was- 342 metres. It all happened so quickly I didn't realise he was so far and I hadn't allowed for the bullet drop. Bummer.

I still managed to get a trophy. We checked for blood- just in case and Martin played the video and we could pinpoint the exact spot where the bull was standing when I fired. We then found a small circle in the sand an dI dug down around 8 - 10 inches and and pulled my projectile out. The Barnes TTSX had mushroomed perfectly and I can't recommend them highly enough for shooting trophy river beds.

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Projectile on the left retrieved from my eland and on the right from the Sand River bed.

After lunch we headed to the neigbours' place to find this huge eland bull. Unfortunately he was a no show. We came back again 3 days later and still couldn't find him.

Luckily the boys had a better day than me . Pete scored his two zebra and Scrub managed to poleaxe his with a front on shot.

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Pete with one of his zebra

The boys got back for a late afternoon hunt so we all decided to go out together for a bit of fun. We spotted a couple of huge buffalo bulls. Ricks said that 3 of them in the group would go 42 inches or better. Very tempting but not in the budget for this trip. A few other lucky hunters will probably be less constrained than us. The highlight of the afternoon was that Scrub disproved the theory that the .308 is not enough gun for barbels (African catfish) as his marksmanship was on display perfectly executing a one shit kill. Pilane waded into the knee deep water and retrieved it for his dinner.

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Pilane was all smiles after retrieving Scrub's barbel catfish.

Rick made a call to a nearby friend who also owns a large farm on the Sand River. Rick assured me that there are heaps of waterbuck over there. Tomorrow is waterbuck day, he declared.

That night, Rick and I sat in a blind that had a mob of bushpig feeding on bait according to the trail cam. Within an hour we could hear bushpig. They came into the bait and ran away. They came back and then ran straight up the hill and stopped beside the blind. I had four or five bushpig standing outside the blind - not 4 feet from me. I could hear them breathing and I could smell their breath. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time. After 10 minutes of not moving a muscle the bushpig wandered off and didn't return. DOHH!

Day 8

Waterbuck Day!

to be continued....
 

Ridgewalker

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Great report! Can’t wait for the next installment!
 

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Thanks Ridgewalker. I plan to finish tomorrow. I didn't intend to make it so long and detailed, but you become engrossed and it is like re-living the safari all over again.
 

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Great report, that "re-living" the safari is what AH is all about. BTW that was one he** of an Eland you took. I'll be looking for his twin brother next year.
 

kudukid

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Totally agree Shootist43. AH is an exceptional site. I think I am addicted to it.
I look forward to reading about your huge eland in 2018.
Will finish this report later today.
 

kudukid

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Day 8

Waterbuck Day


After a forty minute drive we arrived at the waterbuck property. I met the owner and his son - both nice guys. This property was very dry and looked in desperate need of rain. We drove to a nearby kopje and climbed to the top and started glassing. A jackal and a few impala were the only sightings. We drove to the next big kopje and straight away spotted waterbuck on the far side of the river. "Cows only", Rick said. We went for a long walk along the edge of the river and saw a large kudu bull and another mob of waterbuck cows.

We jumped in the bakke and drove to another spot. Rick stopped the truck and we started glassing a mob of waterbuck. I could see a young bull , but then Rick pointed out a bigger bull. I could tell he was reasonable but I knew I would be disappointed if I took him. I thought about it a bit more as the waterbuck moved off. I told Rick I would pass. I am glad I did as we had only walked another 5 minutes and we spotted a big bull. He was much bigger in the body and horns and a much darker colour. This was the type of bull I was after. We stayed hidden behind a bush for some time glassing the bull. He was partly obscured by a patch of acacia. Finally the bull walked a few steps to the side and Rick set up the sticks. The bottom half of the bulls chest was covered in tree branches so I only had a small window to aim. At the shot I felt confident, but the bull took off. I can only think I shot over his shoulder.

We were fortunate that the big old bull turned to the right when he got close to the open country flanking the river. Rick and I jogged for several hundred metres and every time we stopped - the bull took off again. An opportunity presented when the bull stopped in a patch of acacia, but there was a clear shot for his vitals. The shot felt good but the bull took off again. Rick said "you missed". Both Martin and I heard the distinctive thump. Martin quickly replayed the video and we could tell the shot was good. A fraction high, but definitely in the lungs. We left it 15 minutes and started tracking. There was absolutely no blood. Rick stopped and crouched down and looked through his binos. "I see a dead waterbuck". I was elated. The bull had expired after a 200 metre dash. These animals are tough!

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Rick and I with my trophy waterbuck

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Waterbuck from a different angle

The drive back to the skinning shed was very jovial. I had taken all of my main trophies for the trip and still had a few days left for some fun and perhaps a few extras.

While checking bushpig bait in the afternoon I spotted a nice male duiker. I said to Martin, we don't need a PH to hunt this giant critter. We had a laugh. Rick was down in the riverbed and we motioned for him to come up. I pointed out the duiker and he got very excited. He said it is huge - you must shoot it. I said na!- doesn't interest me. He said I will do you a deal - swap the torch that mounts on your scope for the duiker. Ok.
Rick had to signal to Pilane to bring the sticks up from the bakke. We snuck in to around 90 metres - up went the sticks and down went the duiker. Rick measured him up - 4 and 3/4 inches - he is Rowland Ward. I told Rick I had shot bigger rabbits!

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The Rowland Ward duiker.

Rick and I spent a fruitless few hours in the bushpig blind but Scrub and Sarel had success - a porcupine. Scrub sent his first shot too high. It went straight through the raised quills. Scrub was deceived and aimed a bit lower with his second shot.

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Scrub with his porcupine.

Day 9

Kruger National Park

to be continued...
 

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Great trophies and getting to do it all with buddies. You guys are cleaning up. Great Nyala, great Eland, great Waterbuck, and Pete's Bushbuck is huge. What a hunt!!
 

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Congrats, a great hunt with very nice trophies.
 

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Apologies guys - I had to go away for work and only juts getting back to finishing off the hunt report.

Day 9

Kruger National Park

Today was our rest day -but we were still up before the sun. Our legendary Camera Man, Martin, aka Belvedere, was leading the photographic safari to Kruger. Rarely have I ever met someone that took to his new nickname as quickly as Belvedere. The 4 of us had the best day ever. Kruger is mind blowing. The number of animals has to be seen to be believed!

The first animal we saw was a large lone bull elephant. He was doing what elephants do - eating a 20 foot tall tree!

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Beautiful bull elephant

We ended up seeing 26 species. We literally saw hundreds of elephants and buffalo, impala were in plague proportions. The highlight was seeing a roan and a small mob of tessebe.
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Tessebe


Hippos and crocs were in abundance, as were zebra, waterbuck, nyala and blue wildebeest. We saw a kudu that easily went over 60 inches.
The buffalo got me excited. There were some huge old boys.

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Check the bosses on this old boy

One of the highlights for me was Krooks corner in the north eastern boundary of Kruger. It is at the junction of three countries , South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It was awe-inspiring looking out over the dry Limpopo River thinking about future safaris to come in Zim and Moz!

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Krooks Corner. Standing in South Africa on the banks of the Limpopo River with Zim to the left and Moz to the right.

We didn't want to leave but it was rapidly approaching dark and they shut the gates at 6.00 pm so Belvedere had to do some fancy driving and we arrived at Pafuri Gate at 5.50 pm. The guard wasn't happy so I asked him to jump in a photo with us and we gave him some sweets and the smile returned.

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Leaving Kruger at Pafuri Gate with the "gatekeeper"


What a day- up there with the best day of hunting. I took approx. 800 photos for the day and Belvedere took even more.

Day 10

The pressure was off as we had secured all of the main trophies we came for and it was now what ever Africa would throw at us!

Pete decided he was going to try for a second nyala - such was the quality and abundance on the property. We all met up for lunch and we commented that the wind had kept the animals in the cover. Pete had barely seen a nyala - which is very unusual.

After lunch we decided to set up all the trophies in the river bed to get some photos.

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Kudukid and his African trophies

While Scrub and I were doing photos in the river bed - Pete and Ruan turned with smiles on their dials. A quick look in the bakke and Pete had nailed another beautiful Nyala - very similar to his first one. "Twins" said Pete. It was the only mature bull they had seen in the windy conditions. It was sheltered beside the river and Pete drilled it off the sticks form around 140 metres.

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Pete and Ruan with his 2nd nyala bull.

Day 11

Our final day

Our affable camera man Belvedere aka Martin Muller of African Sun Productions decided he would get some drone footage of us leaving camp on our final day. We had all the bakkes lined up and we departed one at a time giving our farewell wave - and then shit got serious. The drone started spiralling out of control and crashed into a tree and took a huge nose-dive into the ground. The poor old drone was a write-off. I have since seen the footage and it is quite incredible and martin aka Belvedere included the "crash music" as the drone was sailing to earth out of control and then the huge thump!

Fortunately this wasn't an ominous sign or a metaphor for a voodoo doll with a few pins stuck in it!

Scrub, Sarel , Rick and I hunted together on our final day and we had a ball. It was care-free hunting. Scrub and I were both happy to pull the trigger, but we wanted something different. I was tempted when Rick and Sarel spotted a large kudu in a mob of 5 big kudu bulls. It was late afternoon and the sight of these 5 big bulls are etched in my memory. He was a 55 incher but not wide enough to be different from what I already have at home. I was also keen to nail a huge impala. Hindsight is a wonderful thing - we saw 3 or 4 impala early in the trip that we estimated at 26 or 27 inches - they were monsters. Could-shoulda - but didn't.

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Pilane and kudu looking for game at last light on the final day.


We were heading back to camp as the light was fading when a duiker bolted across the track. Scrub and Sarel jumped off the bakke and jogged into the bush. The sticks went up and Scrub's .308 boomed for the last time on the safari. The duiker bit the dust and after a quick photo session we headed for the skinning shed.

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Scrub and his duiker

We arrived at the skinning shed to a very pleasant surprise as a large kudu bull was being caped. You couldn't wipe the smile from Pete's face.

Early in the safari, Rick told us that there was a large kudu bull that had been seen hobbling around and had some sort of injury to it's hip. Rick said we could shoot it for free as it would be doing the animal a favour. We were all searching for it the entire safari but guess who spotted the wobbly old bull just before dark on the last day!! Bloody Pete did! He had a beautiful curl to his 53 inch horns but unfortunately they didn't get a photo.

Wendy our Master Chef turned it on for the last supper! Nyala schnitzel was the main course in the 4 course meal. Some sort of boinky thing was for desert.

After dinner, while sipping a few G&T's we reflected on the safari. We all agreed that Rick Wolvaardt had over-delivered in every aspect of this safari. The food was exceptional and Wendy was tipped accordingly. Up there with the best food we had ever eaten. The accommodation was first -class with spectacular views. Most importantly there were lots of animals and plenty of quality game animals. You always worry when you pay for a package that one or two of the animals will be scarce- and sure we had to really work hard for some of the animals - but they were all there in good numbers.

We were thrilled with the quality of our trophies - but a safari is more than that. It is the overall experience that separates a good safari from a great safari. And this was great! From the simple touches like personalised shirts and coffee cups, the trip to Kruger, the few hours spent at the Wolvaardt trophy room/museum - these are the extras that make a safari great.

Rick is young and keen, he over-delivered on every aspect of the safari. His gorgeous fiancé Melanie shared dinner with us every night and joined in the banter. His father lives on the concession. It is a true family affair. I want to thank Rick and his team for giving us the real African experience. I recommend him highly and would not hesitate to go back again (2019 I believe) and I would love to see others supporting his business RW Safaris International. Could I also conclude by giving our hard-working camera man Martin Muller aka Belvedere a huge thankyou. He worked his butt off - day and night and the footage he produced is amazing. Take a look at his work on youtube by googling African Sun Productions. You might even find Pete , Scrub and I starring in a few of his epic movies.

One final African sunset

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Sun sets on an epic spiral horn safari.







 

Whiskey1

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Wow! Incredible report! You guys took some great trophys and I'm quite impressed with the extra photography. Very nice touch.
 

cagkt3

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Great stuff!
 

kudukid

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Thankyou cagkt3 and all the members of the AH family that sent such positive replies. I have been back from my safari for 2 months now. In some ways it feels like yesterday and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. The memories keep you going until the next safari and reading all of your excellent hunt reports helps keep the African fever at bay.
 

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Can you advise me to properly post pix, sometimes I get it right sometimes not
Tokoloshe Safaris wrote on Milan's profile.
I do not know where this video was posted, but I would very much like to see it.
Al Burke wrote on Milan's profile.
Hello Milan, I just watched your video on disassembling/reassembling the CZ 550. I have spent days looking for something like this. I now have no reservations taking apart my rifle. I like to do this with all my guns so I understand them "inside and out". Thank you very much for the information. It is greatly appreciated.
Al
Fred Gunner wrote on Viral_SIGness's profile.
60 375 Ruger Brass
$75+$8.30 Priority Mail Shipping
Postal Money Order Or Certified Tellers Check.

for final confirmation
Fred Gunner wrote on Viral_SIGness's profile.
60 375 Ruger Brass
$75+$8.30 Priority Mail Shipping
Postal Money Order Or Certified Tellers Check.

for final confirmation
 
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